Capsule Wardrobe

Melody Bathaee in a peasant blouse, classic blue mom jeans, accessorized with retro sneakers and a dainty flower-printed hair scarf. Just the right mix of basics and on trend accessories creating a laid-back bohemian outfit. (Melody Bathaee/Orange Appeal)

Melody Bathaee in a peasant blouse, classic blue mom jeans, accessorized with retro sneakers and a dainty flower-printed hair scarf. Just the right mix of basics and on trend accessories creating a laid-back bohemian outfit. (Melody Bathaee/Orange Appeal)

A closet that you open and never feel lost thinking that you have nothing to wear, without breaking the bank, isn’t that everyone’s dream. That’s exactly what you can have if you put in the time and effort to create your own “Capsule Wardrobe”

According to the Cambridge dictionary the term is defined as; “a small collection of clothes that can be put together in different ways and includes everything you would normally wear.”

It was conceived in the 1970s by Susie Faux who as mentioned in the about section of her book “Wardrobe” ran two boutiques and a fashion consultancy under the same name where she helped her clients choose versatile pieces that could be put together to create multiple outfits.

As the desire for minimalism rose in the past few years, with Marie Kondo (the Japanese organizing consultant) becoming global popular and stories of people adopting extreme versions of the concept spreading, the most famous of which is that of Matilda Kahl the New York Art director who wore the same outfit to work for three years, creating a capsule wardrobe has become increasingly thought after.

So how can you too adopt this less is more approach and love the way you look every day at the same time. As you will need to edit your wardrobe to consist of a limited number of items (30-40 pieces for each three month season is the number widely suggested) it would mean you would need to find your own personal style before you can start the selection process.

A floral twist on the classic little black dress, for a casual night out. Pair it with the retro sneakers or high-heeled sandals depending on the vibe you want. (Photo credit: Melody Bathaee)

Finding your personal style is a very debatable subject with multiple professional stylists working to achieve style systems to help people do this’ Kibbe’s “Metamorphosis”,  David Kyla and Dressing your truth to name a few, these devices not only cost a lot of money, but there is also a long waitlist to access many of them. What we propose below is much simpler.

What you wear tells the world a lot about you not just because of how we generically categorize people according to what they wear but also because clothes make us feel different things (sexy, sophisticated, or laid back for example) which intern reflects how people see us.  So starting this process is very similar to branding yourself, you will need to choose 5 keywords which define your style (the style you want to achieve which doesn’t have to be your current one) these words don’t have to be things that we typically categorize clothes with like classic or bohemian, think words that you want to pop into peoples minds when they see you.

Adding a Parisian beret style cap adds a chich twist to a basic outfit. (Photo Credit: Melody Bathaee)

Melody Bathaee in a basic everyday outfit of; boxy white t-shirt, flared dark wash jeans, and again the retro sneakers. )Photo credit: Melody Bathaee.)

Next, create a list with the main activities you do in your everyday life, as you will need a wardrobe with outfits you can wear to do this stuff.

With these two lists in mind, you will now need to create a mood-board of looks you like, the easiest way to do this is to get on Pinterest (if you aren’t already there you are missing a lot of inspiration for all areas in your life). You will need to choose photos of outfits that you not only love but also fit your everyday life and look good on you. Although the traditional technique of finding out your body type and then dressing to create the illusion of the ultimate body shape; “The Hourglass” (which for centuries has been thought of as the most beautiful) is outdated, you will still need to know your body inside out to choose pieces that accentuate whatever beautiful shape you have.

You should now have a better idea of what your style is, so you can start going through your existing wardrobe (yes, you will mainly work with what you have so don’t get all excited and open your favorite shopping app. just yet) and organizing it into modules. You can do this by focusing on your daily activities one by one and choosing three tops, two bottoms, and a third piece of your choice that you can use as your statement or signature piece. Mix and match these pieces to create as many outfits as you can, then move onto your next daily activity and do the same, choose versatile basic pieces that survive seasonal trend changes and you will be surprised by how many outfits you can create. Try everything on with a fresh eye looking to see if the neckline is flattering, if it hits you in the right places, ultimately if it makes you feel beautiful.

An over-sized denim jacket a trend piece to dress up a basic outfit. (Photo credit: Melody Bathaee.)

Now that you have the skeleton of your wardrobe you can move onto the fun part; adding pieces (that you may or may not have) that will make your outfits pop. You can add trend pieces and change them come the next season or better add statement investment pieces (which you will now have the budget for having stopped buying tens of pieces you never wear,) again remember it has to pass all the process above. You should also start thinking of buying duplicates of your basics so you are not doing a ton of laundry. However for each of your trend or investment pieces it would be ultimate if you think of your closet like a full bus, for something to get in there, something else has to get out, so you will always need to think what you can part with to make space for this new purchase.

Lastly, creating your own signature style “Capsule Wardrobe” is a process, and it’s totally normal to not get it right the first time, so don’t throw away those pieces you decide against yet, just store them out of sight.

Melody Bathaee co-wrote this story